10 Free Hiking Apps For The Outdoor Adventurer!
Whether you choose to hike to relax or for exercise one thing is for certain: nothing makes you feel more connected to the universe than surrounding yourself in nature. In fact, studies have shown that those who spend time in nature feel more mindful and centered. If you are an avid outdoor adventurer or someone just getting into hiking, you probably have checked out some of the different free hiking and outdoor apps on iTunes or the Google Play store. With so many options to choose from with apps for adventure seekers, our GPS experts decided to test some of the higher-rated free hiking apps. Here is our list of the 10 best free hiking apps for 2023!
Your Essential Guide to the Best Free Hiking Apps in 2023
We, at Tracking System Direct, firmly believe in providing genuine insights to our outdoor enthusiasts. Before diving deep into this comprehensive list, it’s vital to clarify a few points. First and foremost, we’ve received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, from any apps mentioned here. This ensures our take remains unbiased and purely focused on serving you, the nature lover and trail explorer. This list isn’t a ranking. In other words, we’re not pinning one app against another to declare a “winner.” Each hiking app has its unique offerings, whether you’re planning a hiking trip, seeking a new hiking trail, or diving into detailed maps in 3D.
So, how did we curate this list? We scoured online reviews, dove deep into feedback on the AllTrails app, assessed the detailed trails on apps like Avenza Maps, and even checked out what fellow hikers had to say on the Apple Fitness platform. Our goal? To ensure you have the best tools at your disposal, be it for a brisk trail run, a serene hike, or an all-out outdoor adventure.
In this guide, you’ll find apps that cater to varied needs, from GPS tracking to help you track your hikes, detailed hiking maps for navigation, to even hiking guides that cater to beginners. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone just venturing into the vast world of trails, this list promises to equip you with tools to enhance every step of your journey. Now, let’s get to the app so you’re well-equipped for each hike, bike, or star-gazing expedition!
Related Content: GPS Tracker For Hiking
Gaia GPS is a digital mapping tool specifically designed for hikers. Leveraging high-quality topographic data, it offers precision and clarity in its route details, making trail navigation straightforward. How does it work? By utilizing your smartphone’s GPS, Gaia overlays your live position on a vast array of map types. This ensures that whether you’re in a dense forest or on an exposed ridge, you’re fully aware of your surroundings and upcoming terrain. And, why should you use Gaia GPS? Because in uncertain terrains or when exploring new trails, having a clear, up-to-date map can make the difference between a smooth hike and getting lost. It’s particularly useful when venturing into areas with weak or no cell service, thanks to its offline map functionality.
- Topographic Maps: Provides precise elevation, contour, and terrain details for informed hiking.
- Offline Maps: Ensure navigation capability by downloading map sections for use without a cell signal.
- Trail Finder: Directly pinpoint trails suited to your location and hiking preferences.
- Real-time Tracking: See your exact location, movement speed, and elevation changes on your selected map.
- Weather Integration: Stay informed with localized weather updates pertinent to your chosen route.
- Cloud Sync: Seamlessly switch between devices by storing your routes and map data on the cloud.
- Safety Features: Proactively share your live location with contacts, enhancing safety during solo hikes.
Read what Adventure Alan had to say about this hiking app by checking out his detailed product review.
Cairn is a safety-focused hiking app crafted to keep you connected even when you’re venturing off the beaten path. The core of Cairn lies in its unique “safety net” feature. How does this work? Once you’ve set out, Cairn tracks your path and allows you to share your real-time location and estimated return time with chosen emergency contacts. If you fail to return or check in by your expected time, Cairn notifies your contacts about your last known location. Why would hikers choose Cairn? Venturing into unfamiliar or remote terrains can come with uncertainties. Cairn offers a layer of security, ensuring that someone always knows your whereabouts and can act if needed. It’s an invaluable tool for solo hikers or those exploring less-traveled trails where unexpected challenges might arise.
- Safety Net Feature: Automatically notifies emergency contacts if you don’t return/check-in on time.
- Real-time Location Sharing: Let chosen contacts monitor your journey and exact whereabouts.
- Cell Coverage Map: Highlights areas with cell reception, allowing you to make informed route choices or find signals in emergencies.
- Trail Statistics: Access information on trail length, difficulty, and user reviews to gauge the journey ahead.
- Offline Maps: Download trail maps to navigate confidently in areas without cell service.
- Trip Logging: Document your hiking experiences, including photos, notes, and route details.
- Trailhead Locator: Quickly identify the start of trails to ensure a correct starting point for your adventures.
Check out a detailed review on the Cairn hiking app by Modern Hiker.
Mountain Collector stands as a specialized app for peak-bagging enthusiasts. At its core, it’s an interactive summit logbook. So, what is it? Essentially, Mountain Collector is a digital diary for mountain summits. As you reach each peak, you can log your achievement, adding it to your growing collection. How does it work? Through a combination of GPS verification and user input, it authenticates and records each peak you’ve bagged, providing a sense of accomplishment and motivation to tackle more. Why would avid hikers and climbers use this? It offers a systematic way to track and celebrate each summit achievement, making it particularly enticing for those with goals to conquer specific mountain ranges or peaks. Whether you’re aiming to complete the Colorado 14ers or just love the thrill of standing atop mountains, Mountain Collector provides a structured way to document and relive each ascent.
- Digital Summit Log: Record every peak you’ve reached, creating a digital history of your achievements.
- GPS Verification: Authenticate your exact location at the summit, ensuring accurate peak logging.
- Mountain Database: Access a vast catalog of mountains worldwide, with details on elevation, difficulty, and routes.
- Personalized Statistics: View a breakdown of your summits, including total elevation gained and most frequent mountain ranges.
- Interactive Map: Visualize your peak-bagging journey on a map, showing all your conquered summits.
- Social Features: Share achievements, compete with friends, or connect with other mountain enthusiasts.
- Offline Functionality: Log your summits even in remote areas without a data connection.
MapMyHike is part of the broader ‘MapMy’ suite, honed to serve the specific needs of hikers. So, what exactly is MapMyHike? It’s an app tailored to track, record, and analyze your hiking adventures. Using the GPS on your device, it diligently monitor your trail progress, capturing vital statistics like distance, duration, and elevation gain. How does this benefit you? As you hike, MapMyHike provides real-time feedback, allowing you to understand your pace, elevation changes, and overall progress. The post-hike analysis then offers insights into your performance, making it ideal for those who are goal-oriented or training for bigger hikes. Whether you’re a casual walker seeking to track your weekend jaunts or an avid hiker prepping for a multi-day trek, MapMyHike is the tool to gauge and optimize your hiking prowess.
- Real-time Tracking: Monitor vital stats like distance, pace, and elevation gain as you hike.
- Detailed Post-Hike Analysis: Review your performance metrics, and understand areas for improvement or celebration.
- Route Discovery: Access a vast library of trails uploaded by fellow hikers, complete with ratings and feedback.
- Customizable Voice Feedback: Receive audio updates on your progress without needing to glance at your device.
- Integration with Wearables: Syncs seamlessly with various wearable devices for enhanced tracking and metrics.
- Social Connectivity: Share your achievements, join challenges, and connect with a community of fellow hikers.
- Offline Capabilities: Preload your chosen routes to navigate confidently even in areas without cell service.
AllTrails is a comprehensive trail resource beloved by many in the hiking community. What’s AllTrails all about? It’s a vast platform that provides users access to over 100,000 trail maps, from serene forest walks to challenging mountain treks. But how does it work? Users can search for trails by location, difficulty, length, or rating. Once a trail is selected, AllTrails provides detailed maps, user reviews, and often photos to give a complete picture of what to expect. Why is this indispensable for hikers? It takes the guesswork out of finding a suitable trail, offering insights from thousands of fellow outdoor enthusiasts. So, whether you’re in an unfamiliar area or just looking to explore a new local trail, AllTrails offers the clarity and confidence to embark on your next adventure.
- Extensive Trail Database: Access to over 100,000 detailed trail maps from around the world.
- User Reviews and Photos: Gain insights from firsthand experiences of fellow hikers, ensuring you know what to anticipate.
- Customizable Search Filters: Find trails that match your preferences for difficulty, length, or rating.
- Offline Maps: Download trail maps for offline use, ensuring navigation even in remote areas.
- Trail Logging: Record your hikes, add photos, and notes, and track your progress over time.
- Safety Features: Share your real-time location with trusted contacts while on the trail.
- Community Engagement: Connect with a vibrant community of hikers, sharing experiences, tips, and recommendations.
See what real hikers had to say about this mobile app on Reddit.
ViewRanger is a robust outdoor navigation app catering especially to trail enthusiasts. So, what sets ViewRanger apart? It’s the app’s dedication to delivering high-quality topographic maps combined with augmented reality features. Utilizing the GPS of your device, ViewRanger guides you through trails with precision, ensuring you always stay on track. But how does it elevate the hiking experience? One of its standout features is the Skyline AR mode. By pointing your device at the landscape, you can instantly identify peaks, places, and other points of interest via augmented reality overlays. Why is this useful? Beyond the novel experience, it provides hikers with context and orientation, particularly valuable in unfamiliar terrains. Whether you’re wandering through rolling hills or navigating a challenging mountain trail, ViewRanger offers both guidance and an enriched understanding of your surroundings.
- High-Quality Topographic Maps: Navigate with detailed maps tailored for outdoor adventures.
- Skyline AR Mode: Identify and learn about landmarks, peaks, and places by simply scanning the landscape.
- Offline Access: Pre-download maps and routes to ensure you’re never left stranded without navigation data.
- Personalized Route Recommendations: Discover trails tailored to your preferences and previous hiking habits.
- Real-time Tracking: Keep tabs on your location, pace, and distance traveled throughout your hike.
- Social Sharing: Document and share your adventures with friends, family, or the broader ViewRanger community.
- Safety Alerts: Set up automatic notifications to inform emergency contacts if you remain stationary for too long.
Read what Chris Townsend, an avid outdoor hiker, said about this app by clicking here.
National Parks by Chimani
National Parks by Chimani stands as a dedicated guide for exploring America’s cherished national parks. What is the essence of this app? It’s a specialized tool that brings together detailed information, maps, and tips for over 400 national park sites. How does this benefit the park visitor? Chimani breaks down each park’s attractions, trails, amenities, and historical insights, ensuring visitors make the most of their trips. Using your device’s location capabilities, the app can offer real-time data and guidance as you navigate the parks. But why is it a must-have? For anyone passionate about exploring national parks, it offers an unparalleled depth of knowledge, curated specifically for the park experience. Whether you’re gazing at the grandeur of the Grand Canyon or meandering through the meadows of Shenandoah, National Parks by Chimani ensures you’re well-informed every step of the way.
- Detailed Park Guides: Access exhaustive information on over 400 national park sites.
- Interactive Maps: Navigate parks confidently with detailed, user-friendly maps.
- Points of Interest: Discover attractions, viewpoints, and hidden gems within each park.
- Personalized Trip Planner: Organize your park visits with itineraries, to-do lists, and scheduled activities.
- Real-time Alerts: Stay updated with weather conditions, road closures, and other real-time park notifications.
- Offline Capabilities: Access essential information even without an internet connection.
- Community Insights: Connect with a community of park enthusiasts, sharing experiences and recommendations.
First Aid by Red Cross
First Aid by the Red Cross serves as an indispensable tool for outdoor enthusiasts and everyday individuals alike. So, what is it at its core? It’s a comprehensive digital guide that offers immediate access to information on handling common first-aid emergencies. How does this play out in real scenarios? In the event of an injury or medical emergency, the app provides step-by-step instructions, bolstered by videos and animations, to guide users through the proper response procedures. Why is it crucial for hikers and outdoor adventurers? The wilderness can present unforeseen challenges, and having a reliable first-aid guide at one’s fingertips can be the difference between a minor setback and a severe complication. Whether you’re dealing with a sprained ankle on a trail or a bee sting during a picnic, First Aid by the Red Cross ensures you’re equipped with the knowledge to respond effectively.
- Step-by-Step Guides: Access clear instructions for a wide range of common emergencies.
- Instructional Videos and Animations: Visual aids enhance understanding and clarify procedures.
- Emergency Preparedness: Learn how to effectively handle natural disasters and severe weather conditions.
- Interactive Quizzes: Test your first aid knowledge and stay sharp on essential procedures.
- Direct 911 Access: Easily call for emergency help directly from the app if situations escalate.
- Localized Content: Receive tailored advice based on your geographic location and potential risks.
- Safety Tips: Gain insights into preventing injuries and staying safe in various environments
Read real customer experiences with this mobile app by visiting the Google Play Store.
Strava, while widely recognized in the realm of cycling and running, offers notable utilities for hikers as well. What is Strava? At its heart, it’s a social fitness network that tracks your outdoor activities and connects you with a global community of athletes. How does it cater to hikers? Using your device’s GPS, Strava meticulously records your hiking route, capturing details like distance, elevation gain, and pace. But what makes Strava stand out for hikers? Its segment feature allows you to compare your performance on specific trail sections with other users, infusing a touch of friendly competition to your hikes. Whether you’re pushing for a personal best on a local trail or simply documenting your weekend wanderings, Strava brings an element of connectivity and challenge to the hiking experience.
- Activity Tracking: Monitor and record your hikes, detailing distance, pace, and elevation changes.
- Segments: Engage in friendly competition by comparing your performance on specific trail parts with other hikers.
- Social Networking: Connect with fellow hikers, sharing experiences, routes, and accomplishments.
- Personalized Insights: Review your stats and trends over time, gaining insights into your hiking progress.
- Photo Integration: Attach photos to your activities, creating a holistic memory of your adventures.
- Challenges: Participate in community-wide hiking challenges, motivating you to hit the trails more often.
- Safety Features: Use the Beacon function to share your real-time location with chosen contacts for added security.
Is Strava good for hiking? See what Hiker’s University had to say!
Relive is an innovative tool designed to transform your outdoor activities into dynamic and shareable 3D video stories. But what does that mean for hikers? At its essence, Relive captures the details of your hike—from the trails traversed to the photos taken—and weaves them into an immersive visual recap. How does it function? By integrating with your device’s GPS and other tracking apps, Relive collects data about your route, elevation changes, and key moments. The true magic, however, unfolds post-hike. The app uses this data to generate a 3D video, retracing your steps through animated landscapes. Why is it a standout for outdoor enthusiasts? It offers a novel way to revisit and share your adventures, breathing life into the static maps and stats of conventional tracking apps. Whether you’re summiting a peak or exploring a scenic forest, Relive lets you experience and share your journey from a fresh, engaging perspective.
- 3D Video Stories: Transform your hikes into animated, shareable 3D video recaps.
- Photo Integration: Incorporate photos taken during your hike, automatically placed at their capture locations in the video.
- Multiple Activity Integration: Sync with other tracking apps to seamlessly collect and use hiking data.
- Customizable Highlights: Add notes, adjust durations, or select focus points to personalize your Relive video stories.
- Social Sharing: Effortlessly share your 3D recaps with friends, family, or the broader Relive community.
- Offline Mode: Capture your journey even without an internet connection, then generate videos once reconnected.
- Interactive Exploration: Dive into your video stories, exploring details, statistics, and photos with interactive controls.
Frequently Asked Questions For Best Hiking Apps
Are the most popular hiking apps always the best choice?
No, not necessarily. While popular hiking apps like AllTrails and Gaia GPS offer extensive features and a large user base, it’s essential to consider your individual needs. If you’re looking for specialized functionalities, apps like Mountain Collector or the Hiking Project might better serve your interests. Always assess the app’s features against your hiking requirements.
How important is offline map availability in a hiking app?
Absolutely crucial. Many trails are located in areas with weak or non-existent cell service. Downloadable offline maps ensure you have a reliable GPS location and trail guide, regardless of network availability. For instance, apps like AllTrails and ViewRanger allow you to pre-download maps for seamless navigation during your hike.
Does every GPS app for hiking provide elevation profiles?
No, not every app offers elevation profiles. However, understanding distance and elevation changes can be essential, especially for long-distance hiking or mountain projects. Apps like Gaia and AllTrails Pro feature detailed elevation profiles, helping you anticipate steep sections and plan trips more effectively.
Are there hiking apps that can help with weather forecasts and finding water sources?
Yes, several apps incorporate weather forecasts and natural resource locators. Knowing the weather helps you pack the right hiking gear, while water source information is invaluable on long treks. For example, Cairn not only tracks your GPS location but also offers localized weather updates. Meanwhile, some apps might integrate with external weather apps or platforms to provide real-time climatic insights.
Is there a difference between the free and paid versions of hiking apps?
Yes, there often is. While many apps like AllTrails and Gaia GPS offer free versions with basic features, their premium versions unlock advanced functionalities. For instance, the AllTrails Pro version offers features like offline maps, trail guides, and more, enhancing your outdoor adventure experience. Always check what the paid version entails before upgrading to see if it aligns with your hiking needs.
- 10 Free Hiking Apps For The Outdoor Adventurer!
- Your Essential Guide to the Best Free Hiking Apps in 2023
- Frequently Asked Questions For Best Hiking Apps
- Are the most popular hiking apps always the best choice?
- How important is offline map availability in a hiking app?
- Does every GPS app for hiking provide elevation profiles?
- Are there hiking apps that can help with weather forecasts and finding water sources?
- Is there a difference between the free and paid versions of hiking apps?